Sunday, October 23, 2011
I get tired of my job sometimes. It’s like any other job, really, a lot of the time it’s just a job. Then, you have a day every so often where you think, “Man, I love this job!” That happened to me today. Why?
Because I got yelled at and sworn at by multiple customers.
I was giddy about it. I called Michelle on the way home and she couldn’t figure out why I would like that so much, probably because she is normal. I like odd and awkward situations, really I do. Also, I think so much of my day at work is me being unsure of the answers to the questions I’m being asked by customers, that today was refreshing because I had an answer, and I couldn’t change it. My answer was, “No.”
For a few hours today I was positioned in front of the store managing lines with another employee. We were at capacity for the number of customers in the store compared to the number of employees on the floor. Each employee has a device to ring people up instead of having a counter with cashiers at it, so it doesn’t make sense to have too many people in the store. My task was to put people who had phone reservations in one line, and anyone else who wanted in the store for anything else in another line. It was a fairly extreme measure, but actually helped with customer service once someone was in the store.
It turns out, people really, really like their electronics.
We had to step in front of people a lot as they tried to enter and explain to them that if they wanted in the store they would have to wait in line. Often times we had to jump from one conversation to stop a person beside us from getting in. I felt like a bouncer at a super elite club. People would have to wait in line from 5-20 minutes usually. The reactions varied from understanding, to frustrated, to maniacal anger directed toward us.
The first such encounter happened like this.
Jeff: “How can I help you?
Girl: “I just need a case for my phone.”
Jeff: I’m sorry, but we’re at capacity in the store right now, so you guys will have to get in line.”
Girl: “That’s crazy.”
The girl, in her twenties, and her friends get in line, where she will apparently fume for the next ten minutes. Finally, she is close to the front.
Girl: “There are employees just standing around in there talking!”
Jeff: “Actually, we have some new people training, so they’re shadowing, that’s probably why it looks that way. Once they’re done, they’ll hurry up here.”
Girl: “There are people just walking in right now!”
Jeff: “They have appointments for repairs actually.”
A few minutes pass and an employee comes up to take the next customer. The girl and her friends have made it. I pull back the belt and let them in.
Jeff: “Alright, you guys are up!”
The girl walks past with her friends. As she passes me, she has one last thing to say.
With that, I knew I was going to have a great day. I didn’t take any of the vitriole personally, it was more entertaining. I understand that people don’t like to wait in lines, it’s frustrating, especially when you aren’t expecting it. I don’t understand why they were under the assumption that I held the power to do anything about it. I also don’t get the sense of entitlement these people have where they see a line and feel that they should be exempt from it.
A man in his 50s approached. I gave him the story.
Man: What? That’s stupid.
Man: Does Tom (CEO) know about this?
Jeff: I don’t know sir.
Man: I’m going to e-mail him.
The man steps back and starts to take pictures with his phone. My fellow employee turned away while I smiled for the camera.
Man: I’m e-mailing him and sending these pictures to the press. Is there a manager around? Let me talk to a manager! This is bulls#&t! You’re supposed to be known for customer service! Bulls#@*t, and you know it. You’re just trying to create hype.
Jeff: I’ll get a manager for you.
The manager came up and the man yelled the same thing to him. I’m going to keep checking the papers to see if I made the “press.”
This is how I imagine his conversation with the paper going:
Editor: Hello, LA Times
Man: Yes, I have a big story for you!
Editor: Oh really, what is the story?
Man: I went to a computer store today.
Man: There was this pale blonde guy working there and he was in the front. He said I had to wait in line to get into the store.
Editor: Okay, how long did you have to wait?
Man: 20 minutes! Well, I would have, but I just left!
Editor: You’re telling me that you had to wait 20 minutes in line? That’s preposterous! We’re stopping the presses. We were planning on running the story about the earthquake in Turkey that killed hundreds of people, but we’ll drop that, this is bigger. Wait, do you have any pictures?
Editor: Amazing! We’re going to blow this story wide open!
The Disability Card
An apparently able bodied woman approached and I told her the deal.
Woman: I can’t stand in line, I’m disabled.
Woman: I can show you my disability card.
Jeff: I don’t know what our policy is on that.
I look at it with a look of knowing what I’m doing.
Jeff: Alright, you can go in.
A half hour later, the woman leaves sauntering out and striding away. As she turned the corner down the mall, I swear she jumped and clicked her heels just to show me.
The Family Man
A family came up to the front and I told them the deal.
Man: What? That’s ridiculous. Are you serious?
Jeff: Yes sir, sorry about that.
Man: So I’ve got to stand in line to get into the store?
Jeff: Yep, thanks for being understanding.
The man, his wife and two kids get in line and begin to wait. As they make their way towards the front his patience is gone. They start making loud scoffing noises to demonstrate their disgust while I talk to someone else in front.
Man: Someone else just went by you while you were talking!
Jeff: Sorry, I can’t get to everyone, I’m here by myself right now. I’m doing the best I can.
Woman: It hardly even looks busy in there!
Jeff: It’s more about the number of employees we have in there right now, there would be no one to ring you up if you were in there, you know what I mean?
(I wanted to reply by saying, “Listen, you tool, they went by me because you were talking to me about how people are getting by, you created that. The irony cuts deep, much like the surgeries required to make your wife’s face look like someone stapled Steven Tyler’s lips to a pile of pizza dough. Oh, and your kids are losing respect for you every time you talk.” I did not because I am a gentleman.)
I just smiled as he kept on me.
Man: What I’m saying isn’t funny! Why are you smiling?
Jeff: I understand it’s frustrating for you, we’re just really busy today, thanks for being understanding, I know it’s an inconvenience.
(I was proud of myself right away because it sounded super polite)
A few minutes later, it was their turn, so I pulled back the belt and let them in. As the man walked by, he had one last thing to say.
Man: You’re a s#*tty PR guy!
Finally, someone recognized my degree in Communication Studies. I turned to tell him thanks, but just like that, he was gone. I mourn for his children.
See? What a great day!
After that, I rode my bike home and stumbled upon a red carpet event in Beverly Hills. Dwyane Wade and other celebrities were getting their picture taken. I stopped for some pictures until a cop told me to leave.